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Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Lynn S. Whiting dies at 77

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Lynn S. Whiting, who trained Lil E. Tee to an upset victory in the 1992 Kentucky Derby, died Wednesday. He was 77.

He died at his home in Louisville, Kentucky, after a struggle with cancer and a stroke he had during the winter in Arkansas, according to Oaklawn Park spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyt.

Churchill Downs said Whiting had visited the track on Monday for the first time since his stroke. He had one win in 10 starts this year.

Whiting had career earnings of $23,960,058 and 1,279 victories from 6,113 starters, according to Equibase.

His biggest win was the Derby with 17-1 long shot Lil E. Tee. The colt won by a length and paid $35.60.

“That’s the culmination of everybody’s dream that ever trained a racehorse,” Whiting said in an interview with Horse Racing Radio Network in January. “It’s a little bit like catching lighting in a bottle.”

Whiting saddled 300 winners at the Louisville track.

He spent the winter months at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he won the Rebel Stakes with Clever Allemont in 1985 and Phantom on Tour in 1997.

Among his other major victories were the 1992 Arkansas Derby with Lil E. Tee, the 1987 Louisiana Derby with J.T.’s Pet, the 1984 Ohio Derby and Arlington Classic with At the Threshold (who sired Lil E. Tee), the 1984 Haskell Invitational with Big Pistol, the 1995 Pennsylvania Derby with Pineing Patty and the 2013 Oaklawn Handicap with Cyber Secret.

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day won his only Derby nearly 25 years ago aboard Lil E. Tee.

“I had the utmost confidence in trainer Lynn Whiting, my dear friend and astute horseman that he is,” Day said last week. “I know that if anybody could bring him up to the Derby in fine form, it would be him. When we walked in the starting gate for the Derby, I had a really good theory. I felt that we were going to get a great effort out of him, which we did. When I put him to task, he was up to the challenge and got the roses for us. It was a highlight of my racing career.”

Lil E. Tee went on to finish fifth in the Preakness and didn’t run in the Belmont Stakes. The colt had career earnings of $1,425,026.

Whiting saddled two other Derby horses: Phantom on Tour finished sixth in 1997 and At the Threshold was third in 1984.

He became a trainer in 1968 and saddled his first winner the following year at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island.

Born June 28, 1939, in Great Falls, Montana, Whiting learned the horse business from his father, Lyle, who was a jockey and a trainer. Whiting’s grandfather was a trainer, too.

“My first experience at the track I went in a baby buggy with my mother and grandmother,” he said in the radio interview. “I was just a racetrack kid. There was never any doubt where I was headed.”

He is survived by his wife, Nell; daughters Carrie and Lori; and three grandchildren.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.